SPORTS

Gov’t proposes return of Super League to federation

The government appears to be serious about resolving the ?Calciopoulos? match-fixing scandal that has rocked the Greek game and on March 11 called on the soccer federation to take back the organization of the top flight from the Super League. At the same time, the referee at the center of the scandal told a prosecutor he has been on the receiving end of pressure and threats but has not been bribed.

General Secretary for Sports Panos Bitsaxis sent a letter to the Hellenic Football Federation (EPO) and suggested that due to the low credibility of the league of clubs and the incidents of violence rocking the domestic championship, the league organization should return to the federation as of next season.

Bitsaxis added that ”state funding to Greek soccer is not without conditions and cannot be taken for granted. It is inextricably linked to parameters of public interest,» effectively warning that the money that comes to soccer from state betting company OPAP could be held back.

EPO has not turned the proposal down and said in a statement that it will all depend on the federation’s general meeting to be held in June.

In another letter Culture Minister Pavlos Geroulanos called on EPO to take the measures required to clean up soccer and stressed that it would receive the government’s support in this effort. So far EPO has done practically nothing to resolve the scandal that lawyer Alexis Kougias brought to light concerning the pressuring and bribing of referees.

Referee Giorgos Daloukas reportedly confirmed before the prosecutor investigating the match-fixing allegations against the heads of Olympiakos Volou, Achilleas Beos, and Olympiakos Piraeus, Vangelis Marinakis, that he had been subjected to pressure before the game between Aris and Panathinaikos last September but had never been bribed.

Daloukas, who after the game was accused by Marinakis of committing «a crime against Greece» as he awarded a controversial penalty to Panathinaikos, testified before prosecutor Constantinos Simitzoglou for an hour and a half. He reportedly said that he had recently received repeated threats to his life, a fact that the police have also confirmed.

Former referee Sotiris Vorgias also testified before the prosecutor on March 11 and on his way out said, ”This time I hope we may get something out of it all.”

EPO president Sofoklis Pilavios and former referee Kyros Vassaras are due to testify on March 14.

The scandal concerns recordings in which Beos, the Olympiakos Volou strongman, allegedly reveals that he tried to influence the referees of the Maccabi vs Olympiakos Piraeus European tie and of the Aris vs Panathinaikos domestic match last summer, and that the president of Olympiakos Piraeus intended to offer Daloukas 200,000 euros prior to the domestic game.

Interest now shifts to the contents of a third recording that Kougias says he has heard, with reports suggesting that its contents are hair-raising, as a veteran Panathinaikos player described them according to a radio report.

“The people involved will rush out of the country within 30 minutes once the third one is aired,» warned Kougias.